How the barber could save men from a fatal close shave

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How the barber could save men from a fatal close shave

Thanks to trust and a ‘safe space’, barbers could be the tool in preventing men from taking their lives

Journalist


The barber’s chair has the potential to save a man from taking his life.
The Men’s Foundation of South Africa, a movement for men’s health, is on the brink of launching its Movember Rated Barber’s Programme in South Africa. The global programme is already active in the US, UK, Australia and Ireland.
The link between barber chairs and suicide may not be immediately obvious, but according to Garron Gsell, head of the Men’s Foundation, barbers often provide a safe space where men feel they can talk in confidence.
“Barbers are the one of the most trusted professions; they are trusted by men. They are already having these important conversations and just being there, listening and talking, can be lifesaving.
“The programme will link men to professional help when needed and give barbers access to information, tools and resources about men, conversations and things that matter to men,” said Gsell.
“In a country where, on average, 14 to 18 men are dying by suicide every day, three times more than the number of women, it is clear that we are in a crisis situation.”
Boyden Barnardo, owner of Freedom Hair Barbering and Coffee in Mellville, Johannesburg, will be undergoing training as part of the programme.
“There is an unwritten rule that what is said at the barber, stays at the barber,” he said.
“Men talk when they are in the barber chair. They feel comfortable and they open up because there is a level of trust that’s been developed and enjoyed between men and their barbers, where they feel that they can talk when things get tough.”
Barnardo, who has faced his own battles with depression, said: “Through talking we can look for the right answers and provide support.”
Gsell added: “Too many men try to deal with challenges on their own and suffer in silence. We’re hoping to show men that talking saves lives. To deal better with tough times, and to be the dads, mates and sons they want to be, be men of more words.”

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